Several airstrikes were launched Thursday hours after White House national-security spokesman John Kirby called on the Houthis to “stop these attacks” in the Red Sea and warned that the group would “bear the consequences for any failure to do so.”
National Review reports the Iran-backed Houthis have launched 27 attacks on vessels in the Red Sea since November 19, the U.S. military said earlier on Thursday. Iran’s proxy group says the attacks are in protest of the Israel–Hamas war.
Prior to the retaliatory strikes, Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi threatened a “big” response against the U.S. and its allies if they took military action against the group. “We’ll confront the American aggression,” he said in a televised speech. “Any American attack won’t go unpunished.”
President Biden confirmed the strikes in a statement on Thursday evening, explaining that the action was “in direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks against international maritime vessels in the Red Sea — including the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles for the first time in history.”
“These attacks have endangered U.S. personnel, civilian mariners, and our partners, jeopardized trade, and threatened freedom of navigation,” he said, noting that more than 50 countries had been impacted by the attacks on commercial shipping, while crews from more than 20 countries have been threatened or taken hostage in acts of piracy.
“More than 2,000 ships have been forced to divert thousands of miles to avoid the Red Sea — which can cause weeks of delays in product shipping times. And on January 9, Houthis launched their largest attack to date — directly targeting American ships,” Biden said.
“These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical commercial routes. I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary,” he concluded.
Good Riddance to UNRWA as it Supports Hamas
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The head of UNRWA recently accused Israel of waging an “expanded, concerted campaign” to destroy the UN agency. The leader of UNRWA does have a cause for concern, as Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated that UNRWA has “lost legitimacy and can no longer function as a UN body.” UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer stated that “The rot is systemic, and that’s why we’re holding a conference…to replace UNRWA.” And now Congressional Republicans are probing the Biden administration’s decision to restore US funding to UNRWA in 2021, following the Trump administration’s suspension of that funding in 2018.
Good riddance to UNRWA if it ends up folding under pressure; UNRWA and the UN are Hamas apologists at best, and facilitators at worst. For example, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator actually insisted that “Hamas is not a terrorist group for us,” but merely a “political movement.” And the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories, in a rejoinder to the French president calling the October 7 attack “the largest anti-Semitic massacre of our century,” stated that “No, Mr. Macron. The victims of [the October 7 attack] were not killed because of their Judaism, but in response to Israel’s oppression.”
UNRWA Employees Provide Material Support to Hamas, PIJ
Israeli Defense Minister Galant has named 12 specific UNRWA employees who “actively participated” in Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, and also stated that Israel has “significant indications based on intelligence” that implicates “over 30” additional UNRWA employees. Gallant stated that of UNRWA’s 13,000 staff in Gaza, “1,468 workers are known to be active in Hamas and PIJ, 185 UNRWA workers are active in the military branches of Hamas and 51 are active in the PIJ military branch.”
Additional to those numbers are the 30 UNRWA teachers known to have celebrated the October 7 attacks on a UNRWA Telegram group that had 3,000 members.
Hamas’ “Data Center” Found Underneath UNRWA Headquarters
Israel also found a Hamas “data center” under UNRWA’s headquarters in Gaza, equipped with an electrical room, computer servers and rooms where Hamas operatives could work and sleep, and that there were power lines connecting UNRWA’s headquarters to this data center. And surprise, some of the equipment found was made in Iran and China. Interestingly, while the Hamas “data center” contained electronics, a server room in the above-ground UNRWA headquarters had most of its electronics missing, which appears to be indicative of “actions of someone who knew the army was coming and wanted to hide the evidence,” according to Col. Benny Aharon of Israel’s 401st Armored Brigade. After the head of UNRWA denied that UNRWA knew of this data center ahead of time, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) tweeted “Oh, you knew,” and stated that Israel had warned UN officials about the data center but those officials chose to ignore those warnings.
Additional Evidence of Strong UNRWA/Hamas Partnership
Additionally, UN Watch cited instances of UNRWA/Hamas synergy, including that Israel found:
- At the UNRWA headquarters above ground, weapons and “documents that indicated that the same offices were also used by Hamas”;
- UNRWA aid bags in Yahya Sinwar’s bunker;
- UNRWA concrete in Hamas’ tunnels that housed hostages;
- Missiles and rockets under UNRWA equipment;
- That Hamas stashed ammunition, explosives, and weapons in UNRWA bags, and that Hamas also had UN vests;
- That Hamas stored weapons in and fired weapons from a UNRWA school; and
- That Hamas’ “Ministry of Health” stole 24,000 gallons of fuel from UNRWA.
And to further emphasize the scope of how seriously UNRWA is compromised by Hamas, every single UNRWA “site, school, mosque, [and] kindergarten” that Israel has inspected had weapons, according to Israel’s commander of the 646th Reserve Paratroopers Brigade.
Calls to preserve UNRWA merely deflect away from the “systemic” “rot” found in the organization. Israel should make sure that UNRWA does not operate in any post-war Gaza, as the organization compromises the security of the Jewish state.
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